And so after all the Internet hype about those motherfuckin’ snakes on that motherfuckin’ plane, the flick itself is a murky stew of shock effects repeated so often that the suspense quickly droops along with you eyelids. It’s not so bad that it’s good. It’s so bland that it’s boring. Not even worth a hissss.
Snakes on a Plane, SoaP to the Internet faithful, is a movie of the people, by the people and for the people. Or so New Line, the studio releasing it, would have you believe. Once Web geeks heard that irresistible title, they began creating their own posters and dialogue and sending in their ideas. New Line, sensing a new golden goose, listened and obeyed. Instead of making the safe, cheesy PG-13 crowd-pleaser they intended to call Pacific Air Flight 121, they made the safe, cheesy, R-rated horrorthon you see today. Samuel L. Jackson, Hollywood’s resident Mr. Cool, says “motherfuckin'” plenty as the film’s cop hero. A half-naked babe going for a mile-high flight fuck gets a snake bite on her boob, a dude unzips to pee and gets his dick blown by a copperhead. A nippy little Chihuahua gets eaten by a viper, while a nasty Brit who hates dogs is swallowed by a python.
Once New Line elected not to screen SoaP in advance to critics, I hit the 10 a.m. show opening day at a multiplex in midtown Manhattan. It worked out great. Expecting multi-dudes camoring to get in, I encountered only fourteen ticket buyers who remained quiet and snoozy throughout the film. No laughter drowned out the dialogue. Since the plot is all in the title, I need only say that badass cop Jackson is on the red-eye from Honolulu to Los Angeles to make sure his eyewitness can testify against a bad guy. Enter the snakes.
Jackson mysteriously disappears from the movie for long stretches as if he had shot the damn thing on his lunch hour on another less demeaning movie. He looks alternately haggard and rested, though the entire plot transpires on one five-hour flight. And the scene in which he’s had enough of the “motherfuckin’ snakes” looks patched in. What a shame that the beloved films of the past couldn’t have availed themselves of the Internet input granted SoaP. Forrest Gump could have availed himself of a “motherfuckin’ box of chocolates.” The big line in Citizen Kane could have been “motherfuckin’ Rosebud,” the “motherfuckin’ Force” could be with Luke Skywalker, and 007 could have been “Bond, motherfuckin’ James Bond.”
That was not to be. But we do have SoaP to remind us of what a B movie can be when it’s produced with utter contempt for its target audience. There was a sharp idea in there somewhere, and a Quentin Tarantino or a Robert Rodriquez might have delivered the trash with style and verve. But David R. Ellis, the director who gave Cellular and did second unit on Madonna’s Body of Evidence, is a hack to his clumsy fingertips. SoaP is a movie of its time, best remembered not for its content but for its motherfuckin’ marketing campaign.